Source: Marshawn Lynch visits Raiders facility

Source: Marshawn Lynch visits Raiders facility

Marshawn Lynch spent his Wednesday visiting the Raiders facility as he considers a return to the NFL, a league source said.

Former NFL punter Pat McAfee of Barstool Sports first reported the news.

The visit marked an important first step in a possible union between Lynch and his hometown team.

What happened in that meeting pushed a long process further down the line. Lynch told the Raiders he plans to return to professional football, NFL Network reported later Wednesday afternoon.

The proud Oakland native retired after the 2015 season, and the Seattle Seahawks still hold his rights. Lynch still has two years left on a contract extension originally signed before the 2015 season.

The Seahawks green-lighted Lynch’s visit to the Raiders facility, though are several steps remaining before Lynch becomes a Raiders employee. 

Seattle would likely want to trade Lynch’s rights, though sources have said the Raiders are loathe to give up draft picks. The Seahawks don’t appear to have room for his $9 million salary under their current budget, meaning they could simply release him outright if the Raiders balk at a trade.

Either way, Seattle isn't expected to be an obstacle in Lynch coming to Oakland. Seahawks general manager John Schneider told ESPN Radio 710 in Seattle that Lynch wants to return and that transferring Lynch's rights to the Raiders would be easy given his strong relationship with Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie. Schneider and McKenzie worked together in Green Bay. 

"Marshawn is trying to figure things out. The Raiders are trying to figure things out," Schneider said. "My understanding is that, if he did want to come play, it would be for the Raiders, that’s it."

Even in the off chance a trade occurs, Lynch would have to re-negotiate his deal in Oakland.

The Raiders certainly need a bruising back like Lynch, but must feel confident he’s a solid fit in the organization. NFL Network reported Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio's opinion is key to this process. His meeting with Del Rio and other coaches went well, sources say, a vital step in bringing Lynch to Oakland. Lynch is certainly an on-field fit, even at 30 years old. He is a powerful, yet versatile back who would be an excellent scheme fit, especially running behind the Raiders’ hulking offensive line.

Landing Lynch would be a huge coup from a business perspective, especially after the Raiders were approved for relocation to Las Vegas last week. The Silver and Black plan to play in the Bay Area the next two, possibly three, seasons and Lynch would be a huge draw for Oakland Raiders fans. He champions his hometown whenever possible and is active in the community.

McKenzie, Del Rio ‘unified since Day 1,’ ushering Raiders into next phase

McKenzie, Del Rio ‘unified since Day 1,’ ushering Raiders into next phase

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Jack Del Rio have done three pre-draft press conferences now. They’ve got the routine down, knowing when to deflect questions, when to put people off the scent and, more importantly, how to seem unpredictable.

They were in lockstep again Friday, less than a week before the 2017 NFL Draft.

During their first, McKenzie offered one criticism of his head coach.

“Can you guys get Jack out of my office?” McKenzie said in 2015, with tongue firmly in cheek.

The rhetorical question was answered with a laugh. McKenzie was acknowledging how much Del Rio and staff wanted to support the scouting process. McKenzie ultimately pulls the trigger on draft day, but Del Rio has a loud voice in the room as he looks for players who fit his locker room and his schemes.

McKenzie has open ears, taking advice from the entire coaching staff while arranging his draft board. This time of year especially, coaches and scouts are working together.

“It’s been unified since Day 1,” Del Rio said. “Reggie and I are very unified and much on the same mission and that is to bring a world championship home to this organization. Everything we’re doing is attacking that, adding these impact players where we can.”

The pair was focused on improving a lackluster roster that featured Derek Carr and Khalil Mack but finished 3-13 the year before. Now their partnership is entering Phase II.

They must decide which players to add, and decide which previously drafted players to keep. There are some obvious extensions in the works, with Carr, Mack and Gabe Jackson. They had to let some homegrown talent go in free agency as they attempt to upgrade depth and build a championship roster that can build on last year’s success.

“There’s a whole different phase that we’re about to go through as an organization as you begin to mature, some of those players have to be re-signed or not. Those are decisions you have to make in all of this. This is year three for us working together and I feel like the relationship with the scouts and the coaches and the sharing of information is excellent. We want to continue to work that way.”

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

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AP

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

The Raiders have an opening in their secondary.

Finding a slot cornerback is a top priority with DJ Hayden now in Detroit. TJ Carrie is an option there, but the Raiders could add a young, versatile talent capable of taking a more prominent role down the line.

That’s true despite the fact Sean Smith signed a free-agent deal through 2019 last year and David Amerson received a contract extension through the 2020 season. Those contracts, however, become pay-as-you-go deals after this season.

The dead money goes away, freeing the Raiders to look for long-term upgrades if they see fit.

Head coach Jack Del Rio loves creating competition and depth, especially at such an important position in today’s NFL. The Raiders like larger, physical cornerbacks with ball skills, and there are plenty in this year’s draft.

Many analysts have the Raiders taking a cornerback at No. 24 overall, and that’s a realistic possibility. They could certainly look to help last year’s No. 24-ranked secondary in the early rounds.

Let’s take a look at some top options available in this week’s draft:

Good fits:There are quite a few quality cornerbacks who could be available at No. 24 overall, even if there’s an early run on the position.

Oakland native and Washington alum Kevin King visited the Raiders during the pre-draft process, and certainly fits what the Raiders like in a cornerback. He’s confident and aggressive, unafraid to use great physical traits to make plays on the ball. He’s tall and long and isn’t afraid to tackle.

USC’s Adoree Jackson has the quality ball skills the Raiders like, and is adept high-pointing the ball. Analysts say he can play several coverage techniques and has the agility to make up for mistakes. He can work in the slot, but at 5-foot-10 isn’t as tall as the Raiders like. They’d have to take him in the first round. He may not last beyond that.

San Jose native and Colorado product Chidobe Awuzie is another interesting local defensive back ready to turn pro. He can play outside or in the slot, and analysts say he has excellent one-on-one coverage skills but needs tackling work. He was a solid slot blitzer at Colorado, and could fill an immediate need crucial against so many three and four receiver sets.

Louisiana State’s Tre’Davious White has experience playing the slot, and could help right away there before transferring outside if asked. He can cover extremely well, though analysts say he isn’t much of a tackler. He might be a tweener as far as the Raiders are concerned, not worthy of the No. 24 pick but long gone before the Raiders pick in the second round.

Central Florida’s Shaquill Griffin visited the Raiders this spring, and rightfully so. A willing run defender with good ball skills and tackling ability who could be available in the third round should intrigue them.